At the studio we have a tiny statue of what is known as a Laughing Buddha. While not technically the Buddha, the round-bellied bald-headed figure represents a monk whose Chinese name is “Ho Tai.” Our bright orange version shows Ho Tai with hands overs his eyes. This is one of three related statues. The other two include one with hands covering the mouth (speaks no evil) and another that covers the ears (hears no evil). Our version sees no evil.
Our miniature Ho Tai reminds us of the danger when we editorialize what we see and to keep our perspectives in a positive nature. For example, if the person on the next mat is moving easily through the sequence and you’re barely able to breathe, try not to get caught in comparative thoughts like “I’m not as good as she is, therefore, I am not good at yoga.” It’s easy to become discouraged, frustrated, and unmotivated when this happens. We call this type of thinking compare and despair.
Throughout your yoga journey, you will undoubtedly encounter practitioners who are at different points along their path or who have different natural abilities when it comes to asana practice. Maybe that person who took their first yoga class three months ago when you did is now doing hand stands in the middle of the room. What you may not know is how her previous experience as a high school gymnast prepared her for this pose.
So when you feel someone is doing something better than you can, don’t compare and despair — admire and inspire instead. Let their successes remind you of the wonders of the human body and all that is possible. Let their light be a reminder of the equally beautiful light inside you. Trust that no matter where you are along your yogic path, you are exactly where you need to be at this moment.